It's been said that a boat is nothing more than a hole in the water to throw money into. That rings as true as ever this weekend, when more than 100 of the flashiest boats in the nation race against the clock as part of the 17th annual Lake Rescue Shoot-Out Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 26 through 28) at the Lake of the Ozarks (Osage Beach, Missouri; see www.funlake.com for a nifty map).
Old-school lake purists talk about the days fifteen or so years ago, when they could water-ski right out of their cove, and their nineteen-foot boat, Floyd, suited the Ozarks just fine. But then the water began to stir, and the region underwent dramatic changes. Floyd watched incredulously as boat lengths increased by ten- and twenty-foot increments, and once-quiet coves became wracked with whitecaps and the roar of dual-engine cruisers. Sure, any nitwit can take the helm of a boat and fancy himself a captain, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. The Lake of the Ozarks' exponential growth has put a strain on emergency equipment like rescue boats, dive gear, life jackets and automatic defibrillators. (Such things are useful when your driver asks where the boat's brakes are located, or when you receive the bill after topping off the gas tank.) All of this weekend's activities benefit the lake area's deserving fire and rescue departments.
Ranked as one of the top powerboat events in the world, the competition takes place Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in front of Shooters 21 restaurant (between the lake's twenty- and twenty-two-mile markers). After a one-mile run-up to build speed, the boats hit the radar to determine which captain has the most seahorsepower (and yes, personal-watercraft daredevils can compete from 10 a.m. to noon). Other contests include the Stereo Sound System Shoot-Out (6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday), a million-dollar hole-in-one contest and a poker run. For more information on event rules, admission fees (spectating is free) and times, visit www.lakeshootout.com or call 573-348-1221. And wear a life jacket, for Dad's sake.